I have been wrestling with Maze of Sothoth’s debut full length, Soul Demise for a few weeks. Not at all because I don’t know if I like it, but because I am not sure how much I like it. There is no doubt that their take on the Gateways to Annihilation era Morbid Angel style of death metal is powerful and full of all the things that make this genre continue to thrive. Similarly, you can’t go wrong with deriving your lyrical ideas from Cthulhu mythos. And giving it a good mix seals whatever needed sealing for this deal.
So I can recommend this record without reservation. And I do. But the one thing that this record does not seem to do, coming off the embarrassment of riches that 2016 brought death metal lovers, is stand out. To be clear, moments stand out, like the massively catchy groove riffs that break up “Seed of Hatred”, or the keep-your-head-down machine gun riffing in “Multiple Eyes”. And there are no moments where the band disappoints to be found anywhere on this record.
Technically, the band is firmly set up with fantastic musicianship. Fabio Marasco and Riccardo Rubini, both ex of Brutal Murder, have this death metal riffing thing down to a science, and solos are particularly tasty. Moreover their sound is gravelly enough to give the riffs a sense of hefty chunk. The rhythm section of Matteo Moioli on drums and Cristiano Marchesi on bass are tight and fluid. Marchesi’s vocals are satisfyingly cavernous and menacing.
The sound overall is nearly perfect for this style. Every instrument – indeed, every pick-stroke – is discernable, and as stated earlier, the guitars have a grit to them that gives them a great texture. The bass and drums are tightly packed and solid. All in all, a fantastic job on the knobs.
But again, given the massive amount of quality material 2016 threw at DM fans, Maze of Sothoth is, while adding to that wealth, not shining any more brightly. There is nothing wrong with being great. And in fact, half the time I am listening I am convinced this is something special. But the other half I am convinced only that this is one of the many.
“Only”. We should, as death metal fanatics, be so lucky to live in a time when something this powerful is “only” one of the many. I say grab it. You will listen to it often, and maybe you will listen to it more than I think you will.
And shit, maybe I will too.